Accessible Architecture in Public Places

Fact Sheet
Updated: 9 months ago
Accessibility

Accessible Architecture at Places of Public Accommodation

There is a set of standards for accessible architecture at all places of public accommodation. Places of public accommodation are physical places that the public can go, including but not limited to: hotels, restaurants, theaters, auditoriums, stores, service establishments, public transportation stations, museums, schools, social service centers, and health and recreation establishments.

ADA Standards for Accessible Design

The set of standards for accessible architecture at all places of public accommodation are called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) because they were last updated in 2010. These standards apply to new construction from March 15, 2012, onward. If you have an accessibility issue with the architecture of a building that was built after that date you can refer to the 2010 Standards. Buildings built after that date need to be in full compliance with the 2010 Standards. If a building built after that date is not in full compliance with the 2010 Standards, you may have a claim under the ADA.

Barrier Removal and Older Buildings

Buildings built before March 15, 2012, do not have to be in full compliance with the 2010 standards. The 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (1991 Standards) were used from July 1, 1994, until March 14, 2012. Buildings built between those dates need to be in full compliance with the 1991 Standards. If a building built between those dates is not in full compliance with the 1991 Standards, you may have a claim under the ADA. If you have an accessibility issue with the architecture of a building that was built prior to July 1, 1994, you may still have a claim under the ADA. This is because both the 2010 Standards and the 1991 Standards have requirements about barrier removal. Generally speaking, architectural barriers must be removed in public areas of existing facilities when their removal is readily achievable. Barrier removal is readily achievable when it is easily accomplished and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.

When it was Built Applicable Standard  Compliance Requirement
Before July 1, 1994 N/A Removal of Barriers that are Readily Achievable
Between July 1, 1994 and March 14, 2012  1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design  Full compliance with 1991 Standards + Removal of Barriers that are Readily Achievable
After March 14, 2012 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design Full compliance with 2010 Standards + Removal of Barriers that are Readily Achievable

Architectural Barriers Act

There are different standards that apply to federal buildings and areas such as U.S. post offices, Veterans Affairs medical facilities, national parks, Social Security Administration offices, federal office buildings, U.S. courthouses, and federal prisons. These standards come from the Architectural Barriers Act. If you have an accessibility issue with the architecture of a federal building, you can refer to the ABA Standards and file a complaint with the Access Board.

Disability Discrimination Claims

If you feel that a business location has architecture which is not in compliance with ADA Standards, you may have a legal claim under the ADA. You have the right to file a claim with the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The Civil Rights Division investigates civil rights violations, including rights conferred by the ADA. You may also seek to file your claims in a court of law.

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